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Itinerary 10-days Paris/Loire/Normandy

I'm trying to nail down an itinerary for a 10 day trip in October. We are young and enjoy exploring cute towns more than museums. I don't have details planned on what to do during the days in each place yet, so any suggestions on which town to stay in would be appreciated.

Day 1: arrive in Paris, train from airport to Saint Pierre des Corps/Tours
Day 2: explore Loire
Day 3: bike ride explore Loire (any advice for self guided bike tours?!)
Day 4: early morning drive to Mont St Michael & explore it for the afternoon (I know this will be the time of crowds!). In the late afternoon/evening, drive up to Bayeux for the night. This seems like a lot of driving, but maybe it will be better to knock it all out in one day as opposed to spending a night in MSM? We currently live in a seaside town so staying in St Malo or other seaside towns down there doesn't seem like a must do.
Day 5: morning tour of D-Day Beach; afternoon in Bayeux; evening train to Paris
Days 6-9: Paris
Day 10: Depart

I know the itinerary is a bit aggressive, but just wondering if it is actually do-able. The other option would be skip MSM, do Loire through day 4 and go back to Paris for the rest of the time. Then we'd do a day trip of the D-Day beaches from Paris. Is MSM worth it even for a short period of time? The D-Day beaches is a must do for my husband but he said he was good with either a morning or day tour. My must-do is see some small villages and stay in a chateaux.

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks! :)

Posted by
381 posts

My suggestion would be to maybe omit the Loire Valley and focus on Paris and the Normandy region. Mont st. Michael is absolutely beautiful and the small towns in the Normandy region....Honfleur, Deauville etc are so quaint yet historic and you could certainly find a chateax in that area. On the back to Paris I would take time for Giverny. Just a few suggestions. You are young, so start planning for the Loire Valley and the south of France for your next trip!!!

Posted by
6223 posts

Yeah, that's a bit of driving given your available time. Yes, it's physically doable, but I agree that it's probably too rushed.

Note: start by being honest with yourself. You do not have ten days, as you claim. You have eight. Your so-called "day 1" and "day 10" are your arrival and departure days - you won't accomplish anything meaningful on those days other than travel. Even on your "Day 2" (which is in fact your first day in Europe) you probably should plan for a light day, since you'll probably be jet lagged and a bit wiped out from travel.

So, take a fresh, sober look at your 8 days in France...

Aside from being very rushed, the worst thing I see is exactly what you saw yourself: You're planning to drive from the Loire Valley to MSM, then you're going to enjoy MSM "for the afternoon" (hint: no you're not) then drive on to Bayeux for the night. Nope.

First of all, that's a non-trivial drive and I doubt you would get to MSM much before nightfall (in October, it'll get dark pretty early). But that could actually save you from a fate worse than death: being subjected to the crush of the mid-day tourist jams on MSM. But that only helps you if you get there before dark - and if you sleep on the Mont which is what you should do. That way, you get (maybe) a couple hours in the twilight and after dark, and a couple more hours in the morning, before you flee ahead of the human tide that sweeps in late morning. If you are going to do MSM, that's how you should do it anyway - IMHO it's not worth going there to just pop in for an hour or two, especially mid-day when it's at its worst. Only problem is that you will wind up in Bayeux at noon the following day, rather than at dinner the night before.

I think your itinerary is overly aggressive, given your limited time and also taking into account the shorter days.

Pick one or the other: Loire Valley, or Normandy+MSM. Combine either (but not both) with Paris. The other stuff will be there next time you go.

Posted by
4125 posts

I think you can do this, if it's what you want. Might be better to skip MSM if all you can spare is an afternoon.

For biking, I would locate a reputable bike rental shop before you go and put myself in their hands. Bring a good map (the IGN topo maps are good) and have them mark the route.

There is a lot more to Normandy than the D-Day beaches. If you are after cute towns I'll bet you would enjoy an overnight in Honfleur. Also, the 3 Cs: Camembert, Cidre, Calvados.

Narrowing down to 2 regions gets you a less frenetic trip and more time in the remaining places (and there are some great day trips from Paris). So it is worth considering. But if you don't mind a tour of highlights only and are reasonably nimble I think you can visit all 3 in 8 days. If you had a few more days it would be a slam dunk.

Have a great time!

Posted by
4770 posts

Do you travel often? Have you been to Paris before? Do you plan on returning to France? For me, If I am planning multiple trips, I will spend more time at my farthest point, or make sure I cover a specific region as thoroughly as I think I would like, and then spend the remainder in the "airport" city. The rational being if you plan on future trips to France you will likely be back in Paris but may want to cover other regions (Alsace, Burgundy, etc.) and won't be back in the "neighborhood" of Loire or Normandy. So I would take days away from Paris to see more of the other places. There are so many really wonderful places in Normandy. As far as MSM, if you might want to go to Brittany in the future, you could do MSM then.

Posted by
165 posts

I agree with David above. Think 8 days in country. If all you have is an afternoon to spend at MSM, I would skip it until next time you visit so you can make it more enjoyable. I would recommend you dial it back a bit so you allow time to "take it all in" and not be constantly looking at the clock to see when you need to arrive at your next destination.
Have fun !

Posted by
521 posts

I don't think you're allowing enough time for the Normandy beaches (there are four and they are spread out). If your husband wants to see the ocean and maybe one German gun emplacement, you can do that in a morning. I strongly recommend he check out some of the guided tours to see how much they are covering in a day. If he wants to deepen his knowledge of what happened in the region in June 1944 he'll probably be happier with a tour of one or two days.

If it weren't October 2018 I'd recommend Dale Booth (he's probably fully booked). He and his wife have a rural B & B (not a chateau, though) and his two-day American Beaches tour includes lunch stops in several two small villages.

I agree with other posters who suggested you narrow your focus and save at least one of these three locations for next time.

Posted by
6365 posts

You did not say what your current daily average bike mileage is. You can't see much of "the Loire" by bicycle from Tours. Are you sleeping somewhere else?

I agree that driving to MSM and Bayeux in the same day is ridiculous. You are barely going to scratch the surface of the Loire, and will miss many things by driving from Tours to MSM in a hurry. The highways aren't more interesting than American highways, and a little slower. I agree with your "seaside town" comment, but you are mis-reading St. Malo. Dinard is a beach resort. While St. Malo has a lovely beach and a ferry terminal, (warning: and ENGLISH climate!) it is a major medieval walled town, loaded with history, and a relatively charming large modern marina. I'm not saying it's a "must see", just correcting your thought.

"Day Trip of the D-Day.... from Paris " "must do" -- You have clearly not yet done enough research, not even the Search box for this newsboard. There is a wealth of specific suggestions that have major impact on your planning. Our host's book (and other writers) have excellent self-guided ideas for the D-Day beaches, but you have to be strategic to get them done. I do think the parking lots may be less full in October than when we were there.

It might be interesting to see if there are wine and apple ( .... Calvados and bottled hard cider) harvests in October. Although changing rail stations in Paris is tedious, I would consider training to Caen and just doing Normandy and MSM. There are nice towns in between, like Coutances, Vitre, Fougeres, and Dinan, as well as smaller ones I don't happen to know. If you haven't been to Paris before, you can't have too many days there.